Whether you are an avid skier, or someone craving a winter wonderland experience, Mammoth Lakes, California, should be on your list of places to visit. Located above 10,000 feet, you’ll find yourself surrounded by snow even as summer approaches, making this a go-to destination for families who crave some winter sport action all-year round. (Although, as quoted from some of the Mammoth Lakes locals, you really must “come for the winter, but stay for the summer” to really get the whole experience!)
On a recent trip to California, the Family Travel with Colleen Kelly team took to the Mammoth Mountain slopes. We’re going to share why this is an excellent family-friendly ski destination. And, if you want to listen to an overview of activities from some local experts, you can head over to the Round Trip with Colleen Kelly® podcast for a 2-part series on Mammoth Lakes.
Getting to Mammoth Lakes
Some great news is that there are more options to fly and drive into Mammoth Lakes now than ever–you can find direct flights via United Airlines during their summer and winter seasons, or you can even take a road trip from anywhere in California or Nevada. There are guaranteed to be breathtaking views along the way.
Winter Sports…in Sunny California!
While skiing is top-of-the-mind, there’s also plenty of other winter sports available for the whole family to take advantage of–and which accommodate all ages, too.
Skiing & Snowboarding
We had a BLAST at Woolly’s Tube Park, perfect for both kids and adults. Grab a snow tube and step onto the “magic carpet,” which takes you to the stop of a hill. There are a few lanes to choose from, ranging from a sleek and smooth ride to an exhilarating and bumpy one. It’s a big hit on the mountain, so you may want to make a reservation instead of buying tickets when you arrive. Something to note is that kids must be 42’’ to participate.
Wait…what’s a Snowcat? It’s a vehicle designed to move across the snow. So, although it’s fun to shred down the mountain, sometimes you may want to take it a bit slower. A 2-hour Snowcat tour will get you to the most beautiful vistas in style. This activity is also more accessible for people with varying ranges of mobility and great for grandparents.
A gondola ride is another option for those who don’t ski or snowboard. It’s the best way to enjoy some incredible 360-degree views, as you rise higher and higher into the atmosphere…At the top, you’ll want to stop and really take in the sights. Plus, there is the Eleven53 Interpretive Center to learn even more about Mammoth Lakes’ geology and ecosystems. Another great accessible travel option!
We promise that you won’t regret taking your turn at the wheel when you go to Mammoth Snowmobile Adventures. A crew favorite, we were able to cruise through the Sierra Mountains with an expert guide at the helm. You’ll get your helmet and go through a safety video, and there are 1-seater and 2-seater vehicles available. It’s a wild ride for the whole family! One of the best parts is stopping at Minaret Vista, where the views are unreal.
Take a winter hike through the many, many trails by renting snowshoes. If you’d rather not trek out on your own, you can also book a tour. Perhaps the Sunset Snowshoe Tour grabs your attention? You can visit the Tamarack Cross-Country Ski Center for more information and other activities to take part in.
Summer Activities and Indoor Fun
The Family Travel with Colleen Kelly crew visited in the Spring, when skiing was still strong and the roads were covered with snow. But you can also come in the summertime, when activities like hiking, fishing, biking, and camping are in full swing. And if you plan your trip around the festival schedule, you might just be in for a treat–the locals rave about some of their favorite community events, such as their Margarita Festival, Mammoth Trail Fest, and their countless live music performances.
Another thing to consider is indoor activities for when the weather is looking rough or for when you’re ready to unwind after a long day outside. Mammoth Rock ‘N’ Bowl is the place to go to entertain a group of friends or family–a bowling alley with an arcade and a bar? Count us in! They’ve also got food, so you can start in the afternoon and stay all night.
Of course, there’s also shopping around the Village at Mammoth Lakes. You can browse boutiques, photography galleries, sports shops, and more. Don’t forget to stop at a coffee shop or even Hugs Ice Cream! (We highly recommend grabbing a scoop with the kiddos.)
You’ll find that the Mammoth Lakes is a place for everyone. And it’s super easy to get around, both because of their bus system and their walkable Village area. (Learn more about where to stay and dine in the Village.)
It’s really unbelievable, this stunning, hidden location up in Northern California….and we’re letting out the secret–so get out there before everyone else does!
Read the next article in this series: Where to Dine and Stay in Mammoth Lakes, California
A WLS-AM 890 Chicago radio podcast about Mammoth Lakes, California, is available on all podcast platforms and at https://www.roundtripcolleenkelly.com/podcast.
Coming Soon: You can watch the accompanying Mammoth Lakes episode of “Family Travel with Colleen Kelly” on PBS, the PBS Anywhere app, YouTube, and Amazon Prime.
We would like to provide our sincere thanks to Visit Mammoth, for their guidance, accommodation, and warm hospitality!
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